Friday, April 24, 2015

The Green Hornet: The "Lost" 1936 Radio Broadcasts

Fran Striker wrote in a number of inside jokes throughout The Green Hornet radio program, with characters on rare occasion making reference to The Lone Ranger. One of these jokes can also be credited as the most important and influential factor in the expansion of The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet.

During the broadcast of January 13, 1938, The Green Hornet pays a late-night visit to the house of Judge Woodbury, known for being strict in his courtroom and in need of a little push to set a trap and expose a crooked attorney. The Green Hornet climbs through the window of the judge’s bedroom. As the announcer describes ...

ANNOUNCER: The slick black car of The Green Hornet with its super-powered motor was parked in the drive of Judge Woodbury’s home a few minutes later. The Judge was listening to The Lone Ranger, one of his favorite radio programs, half dozing in his chair.

To accomplish this trick, Striker’s notes on the script suggested playing back a recording of The Lone Ranger. But to date, Trendle had never recorded any of the Ranger broadcasts. The series had always been broadcast live on a coast-to-coast hookup. So the Ranger broadcast of December 17, 1937, was recorded solely for the purpose of this Green Hornet scene and was the spark that launched Trendle into the transcription business, leading to a transcription of every episode of The Lone Ranger beginning with the broadcast of January 17, 1938.  

The earliest announcement came on Monday, January 10, 1938, when King-Trendle released a public statement that The Lone Ranger was riding cross country and not just the western plains. Coincident with the Republic Pictures movie serial in February, King-Trendle announced it would market transcriptions of the radio series for February 1 assignments. The strong growth of the series since it premiered four years previous showed promise and broke all records for mail response for WXYZ. Then heard over 27 stations, Trendle wanted to expand his empire with transcription discs and began advertising the series, claiming the discs would be available for broadcast starting February 15. Sales were certainly impressive and profitable, leading to Trendle’s second transcribed series, Ann Worth, Housewife

Advertisement for renting transcription discs.
By August 1938, King-Trendle Broadcasting was still feeding The Green Hornet live to Mutual stations and it was not transcribed. A business meeting in July 1938 discussed the possibility of expansion. Sponsor interest was growing in various sections of the country, giving them guide to how many transcriptions would need to be produced to meet the demand. On August 16, Richard O. Lewis, general manager of KTAR in Phoenix, Arizona, wrote to WXYZ. The station was featuring The Lone Ranger and Lewis wanted pricing information about The Green Hornet, as well as a sample transcription. Lewis asked that the material be sent to J.R. Heath, KTAR’s commercial manager. Charles Hicks sent a case history of The Green Hornet program, which featured a brief background of the premise, the characters, statistics in ratings, reviews from nationwide periodicals and the success of the Detroit and Ebling creameries as sponsors. Hicks also said the cost for an audition transcription was $10, which would be refunded if the recording were returned in good condition or if the station contracted for The Green Hornet.

At least three transcriptions were made during the month of May 1938, possibly copied for stations out of range of network outlets carrying it live which expressed an interest in reviewing the show. J.R. Heath wrote to Hicks on September 6, requesting the audition record so that “after auditioning the show we will then be in a position to advise you as to the account’s interest.” Hicks replied with hesitation, stating: “Before we send the audition recording in accordance with your request, it might be proper for you to consider this one angle. The date of producing Green Hornet transcriptions for a nationwide market is still to be decided upon and how soon it will be known is dependent upon just such requests as yours. The more requests we receive the better we will be able to judge the importance of an earlier date than what has been planned. Therefore, at the present time the indefiniteness of the production date may cause you a problem if your client became interested as a result of hearing the audition recording and ordered the program to start earlier than what it could be made available in transcription form.”

KTAR was not the only station to submit an inquiry. On August 18, Dale Robertson, general manager of WBAX in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, asked for sales materials regarding The Green Hornet. In late September, Fred A. Palmer of KOY, another Phoenix station, submitted a similar request. In early January 1939, James M. Kennedy of WBAL in Baltimore requested via telegram a sample Green Hornet transcription. By the fall of 1938, Trendle decided to expand The Green Hornet via transcriptions in the same manner as the masked rider of the plains. Through special arrangement with NBC’s Chicago office, Trendle agreed to foot the bill for the series to be transcribed to disc. While transportation charges on test pressings for 18 of the first 24 broadcasts cost Trendle $3.55, the cost to have each episode transcribed was much more — $90 per program. By August 1938, Striker had begun assigning a title for each of the radio scripts. Prior episodes had no title assigned by Striker, Trendle, or any member of the production crew. Beginning with the broadcast of April 6, 1939, every episode of The Green Hornet was recorded and King-Trendle was already making preparations for the series to be available to local station managers. 

Green Hornet transcription discs at Audio Archives.
The transcription of the May 26, 1938 broadcast was assigned the title of “Frame Up That Misfired” and transcription No. 1. The transcription of the May 24, 1938 broadcast was assigned the title of “There Was A Crooked Man” and transcription No. 2. For the remainder of the transcription discs offered to radio stations, the April 6, 1939 broadcast began as transcription No. 3. (None of the other May 1938 transcriptions were included with the discs when the series was syndicated across the country, including the broadcast of May 5, 1938, which today circulates among collector hands.) 

Transcriptions may have been costly, but The Green Hornet, Inc. saw a much larger profit when it rented the discs to various stations at various prices, which more than made up for the investment. The cost for each station was adjusted according to station size and number of listeners. A smaller station in the Midwest paid much less for renting the discs than a larger station in the East. In anticipation of using artwork and photographs of the title character in advertisements, Al Hodge signed a release granting use of his likeness in photos and images for promotional purposes on November 18, 1938. This was primarily to please the executives at NBC, who wanted to cover all the bases. Other cast members appeared in similar photographs and it can be assumed they, too, signed similar releases.

With the advent of transcription discs, Fran Striker had to exercise extra caution, avoiding any specific reference to prior Hornet adventures unless it was absolutely necessary. Episodes such as the broadcast of September 9, 1937, had Kato returning from vacation and Fawcett, the special investigator from the State Attorney office, mentioning the drug ring smashed a few weeks ago and “the blackmail ring last week.”

Striker had written a number of two-part and three-part stories, with each episode featuring a resolution for that particular broadcast, but generally, he maintained single-adventure plots for the series. A press release with a brief plot summary which could be used as a local newspaper promotional piece accompanied the transcription discs. Reprinted below are a few of those summaries. 

(“The Trapped Witness,” originally broadcast February 26, 1940)
Transcription No. 422-B9
A murder in a Chinese restaurant prompts Britt Reid, youthful publisher, to assume the role of the Hornet to unearth a cigar store racket and discover the slayer.

(“The Tricky Tankers,” originally broadcast February 28, 1940)
Transcription No. 423-B10
When a high pressure promoter goes into the gasoline business to undersell his competitors, Britt Reid, crusading young publisher, assumes the role of The Green Hornet to expose a plot to swindle thousands of motorists. 

(“Income From Immigrants,” originally broadcast March 4, 1940)
Transcription No. 424-B11
Reid dons the mask of the Hornet to uncover a scheme whereby racketeers provide “doubles” to take final citizenship examinations for foreigners, and then blackmail them later.

© The Green Hornet, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
The transcription discs contained a second series of numbers with the letter “B” before the number as a procedure ordered by Charles Hicks to straighten the numbering system. As of April 1, 1940, it became apparent that The Green Hornet synopses provided to NBC-Blue did not help with keeping the recordings consistent, because the network was using different program numbers than what the sheets revealed.

Another problem was that someone in the recording department was putting a Hornet seal over the program numbers. The stations had to listen to the programs in order to find out which episode number it was. This was specifically an issue with KTAR in Phoenix, which decided not to bother with verifying the sequential numbers and chose to broadcast the episodes out of sequence.

On the evening of Thursday, August 25, 1944, a number of radio listeners expressed curiosity when WMAQ in Chicago started in at 10:30 with a fascinating, but unscheduled, episode of The Green Hornet, ran it for nine minutes, then switched into Everything for the Boys, normally heard at that time. An announcer explained briefly that it had all been a mistake. The boys at WMAQ recorded both programs earlier in the evening as network features, at which time they were recorded as transcriptions for broadcast at a later time. Apparently an employee typed out labels for both transcriptions, then put the Hornet label on the Everything for the Boys record, and vice versa. The Green Hornet boiled merrily till 10:39 until it was verified that the traffic department hadn’t scheduled a last minute change. Then the announcer broke in while the engineer put on the right record, measuring off approximately nine minutes from the beginning so Everything for the Boys would end at the proper time. 

The system was not foolproof, causing confusion not just with the station operators, but with the listeners as well. KFMB in San Diego, California, part of the Worchester Broadcasting Corporation, paid Trendle $28 for each episode played over their network. On March 5, 12, 19 and 26, 1945, episodes 688 through 691 were played in sequence. For the broadcast of April 2, however, an error occurred. Half of each episode was featured on one side of two separate discs. When the first half of an episode concluded on one disc, the second half picked up almost instantly from the other disc. The opposite side of those two discs featured the two halves of the next episode. Due to an error in labeling before the transcriptions were received by KFMB, the network broadcast the first part of episode No. 692 titled “Load of Cigarettes,” and the second part of No. 693 titled “The Bigger They Are.” The mistake was not caught until the recording was being played over the air, and the network began receiving phone calls from listeners asking for an explanation. KFMB could not charge its sponsor for the broadcast because of the error, and the network applied for a credit with King-Trendle to compensate for the mistake. (On April 9, the network continued with the next sequential episode, No. 694.) KFMB’s request for a credit was approved by Trendle, but not until eight months later because he insisted the source of the error had to be verified first. 

© The Green Hornet, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

With this explained, radio broadcasts pre-May 1938 of The Green Hornet do not exist in recorded form. They simply were not recorded. What follows is a list of 10 "lost" episodes with plot summaries.

Episode #67 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Sunday, September 27, 1936 
Copyright Registration D-2-#45033, script received at Registration Office Oct. 1, 1936.
Plot: Kollenberg has been operating a large scale auto racket, repainting and rebuilding the cars, which are then resold. After Kollenberg knocks off one of his own men for fear of exposure, Reid, having learned the district attorney has a car resembling the Black Beauty, schemes to force Kollenberg and his gang to make an attempt on the life of the masked man. Instead, they find themselves facing the D.A. and the police. Kollenberg’s girlfriend — thinking The Hornet is going to kill her on behalf of her lover — tells the police all she knows about his shady operation.

Episode #68 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Thursday, October 1, 1936
Copyright Registration D-2-#45158, script received at Registration Office Oct. 8, 1936.
Plot: Denise Grangerfield comes of age next week and will soon inherit the estate left by her parents. The trustees, Thorne, Radlip and Snead, have chiseled almost $70,000, and when Denise gains control of the estate, she plans a complete accounting of every dime. In order to make up the loss, Radlip and Thorne cleverly plan the death of their partner, making it appear as if Snead died when a train smashes into his car. The double indemnity clause gives Thorne and Radlip a chance to cover their monetary misdeed. The Green Hornet sets out to separately trick each of the men into believing the other hired the masked man to murder his partner for additional life insurance. Thorne is the first to crack under the pressure and runs to the police station to confess the crime.

Episode #69 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Sunday, October 4, 1936 
Copyright Registration D-2-#45159, script received at Registration Office Oct. 8, 1936.
Plot: Ed Garland, publisher of a weekly newspaper that blackmails clients into paying for advertising space in return for suppressing gossip, is running for office. The Daily Sentinel endorses honest Hamilton Winton, who leads an anti-narcotics crusade in the city. While police keep an eye on The Green Light Tavern, suspected as the gang hideout for Garland’s narcotics distribution, Garland’s men murder young David Winton, Hamilton’s son, after the boy threatened to expose them. Garland makes plans to frame the boy for dope distribution, but The Green Hornet gasses the henchmen unconscious and steals the boy’s body. The Hornet creates a stir when he wrecks a car into the Green Light and makes a speed getaway. The police jump in to discover all the evidence they need for a conviction, and Dave Winton is hailed a hero for standing up against the crooks, cinching his father’s election.

Trivia, etc. The character of Doyle was temporarily replaced with Officer Flannigan, played by Jim Jewell, who makes a number of recurring appearances beginning with this episode.
It appears that Britt Reid had a sister, the only known sibling revealed in the series, as evidenced in episode sixty-nine, broadcast Oct. 4, 1936.

And here is the mail. There is a letter here from your sister at college.
BRITT: Susan? Well what’s possessed her to write? Let’s see it.
She’s been reading of this Green Hornet. She says that when she comes home for vacation she’s going to spend the time with you and play detective with Michael Axford and try and make a sensational
(laughs) She probably wants that reward.
CASE: The easiest way for her not to come close is to work with Axford.

Episode #70 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Thursday, October 8, 1936 
Copyright Registration D-2-#45239, script received at Registration Office Oct. 15, 1936.
Plot: Wiley Basset arranges for the owner of a small restaurant in the Chinatown district of the city to be killed for refusing to pay for “protection.” Three white men witnessed the shooting but leave before police arrive. Thanks to Kato, who was at the restaurant at the time of the shooting, Britt Reid learns the identities of the men. Reid sends them a note, signed by The Green Hornet, suggesting they leave town — or else. The men race to the police station for safety. The police, afterwards, contact Mazie, Basset’s girl, and Pug, his triggerman, asking their whereabouts at the time of the crime. Mazie attempts to cover for Basset, unaware he is in custody at the station. Having told a lie to the police, now she is in trouble.

Episode #71 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Sunday, October 11, 1936 
Copyright Registration D-2-#45240, script received at Registration Office Oct. 15, 1936.
Plot: With the Olympics in Europe, Doctor Bluege lays the groundwork for a clever scheme to smuggle radium into the United States. American tourists in need of a dental filling are unaware that he is planting lead-coated radium capsules in their mouths. A month later, back home, the patients become victims of late-night assaults when they are gassed and the radium fillings replaced with new ones. Britt Reid takes advantage of a set of false teeth, using his Aunt Alicia as bait, to discover the connection and lead the police in a high speed chase to Bluege’s office, where they find the doctor and his assistant trying to clean up their mess. It seems The Hornet created a stir and knocked the radium capsules all over the floor. The criminals are caught red-handed by police.

Trivia, etc. This is the only episode to feature Britt Ried’s Aunt Alicia and her husband (mentioned by name only), Elmer Harrison Reid.

Episode #72 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Thursday, October 15, 1936
Copyright Registration D-2-#45441, script received at Registration Office Oct. 23, 1936.
Plot: When the police smashed the Regan mob, only Jack Regan himself escaped. He begins a new swindle — forcing fruit stand owners to pay $10 a week for protection. Three of them won’t pay, causing their stands to be bombed and riddled by machine gun fire. Regan soon learns about The Green Hornet’s attempts to muscle in on his protection racket, unaware The Hornet’s calling cards are merely a plan to trap and expose the crook. The gunmen responsible for the acts of sabotage, Gus and Smitty, are picked up by Flannigan and Doyle, and Axford gets the scoop.

Trivia, etc. This episode would be slightly revised for “A Racketeer Reborn” (January 29, 1940).

Episode #73 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Sunday, October 18, 1936 
Copyright Registration D-2-#45442, script received at Registration Office Oct. 23, 1936.
Plot: An Oriental fakir named Shalimar has established himself as a mystic, offering his services to prominent women, while his companion in crime, Zemo, blackmails their husbands with the information he learns from the mystic. When Britt Reid learns businessman Henry Mason is being blackmailed, he becomes The Green Hornet and attempts to move in on Shalimar’s scheme by offering details of a crime from which the mystic could profit. Shalimar refuses, but the next day, when the police arrive with a warrant because of Zemo’s disappearance, the truth is exposed. Zemo and Shalimar are the same man. Zemo, a blond, applies makeup and a turban to cover his features and pose as the mystic.

Trivia, etc. The script called for the same actor playing the role of Zemo, the slow-speaking blackmailer, to also play the part of Shalimar, talking in an Oriental manner. This episode introduced Lolita Lane, gossip columnist for The Daily Sentinel, who makes her first of two appearances on the series. Her second would be the broadcast of October 22, 1936.

Episode #74 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Thursday, October 22, 1936 
Copyright Registration D-2-#45505, script received at Registration Office Oct. 29, 1936.
Plot: While trying to answer a plea for help from a young girl, Doyle is knocked unconscious from behind, drugged, roughed up, and a bit with alcohol poured on his clothes. Suspended from the force in disgrace, Doyle asks Mike Axford to help search for the girl who caused Doyle’s suspension. Grace Saunders, the daughter of prominent Henry Saunders, is kidnapped by Schottin and Zittel, who operate a number of slot machines in the city and attempted to eliminate the nosy Doyle. To ensure protection from Saunders, who works on the force, they kidnapped Grace, hoping to stall a raid before they move the base of their operations. The Hornet learns of the girl’s whereabouts and sets out to rescue her, gassing the kidnappers unconscious, and flees from the scene, exposing the plot to the police.

Episode #75 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Sunday, October 25, 1936 
Copyright Registration D-2-#45506, script received at Registration Office Oct. 29, 1936.
Plot: Ambrose Fleming has defrauded numerous clients and built a country estate covering 10 luxurious acres. When forced to betray his business colleagues in support of the Anderson campaign, Fleming discovers a way out of his mess. A fire in his barn takes the life of an employee and thanks to Peter Lambert, his dentist brother-in-law, dental records verify the charred body as that of Ambrose Fleming. Reid sets out as The Green Hornet to pay Lambert a visit. Strapping the dentist to a chair and threatening to remove all his teeth, the masked man learns the truth. The police arrive and discover Fleming is alive — and his wife is signing all the papers that will liquidate the estate to repay the people her husband cheated.

Episode #76 [NO TITLE LISTED] Broadcast Thursday, October 29, 1936
Copyright Registration D-2-#45636, script received at Registration Office Nov. 5, 1936.
Plot: A federal agent named Jack Savage is investigating the circulation of counterfeit Documentary Stamps. After learning that Pabloff and his female associate, Olga, are involved with the scheme, Britt Reid arranges for Kato to sell used stamps. The Green Hornet busts in and reveals Kato as a federal agent, tricking Pabloff into believing the masked man is on his side. Offering to buy counterfeit stamps for a nice price, The Green Hornet learns how Pabloff’s process washes away the cancellation marks and then re-gums and presses the stamp so it appears like new. Reid drops an anonymous tip in the mail incriminating Pabloff, enclosing a Hornet mask and plans for the next meeting. Savage dons the mask and pretends to be The Green Hornet, paying Pabloff with marked bills and catching the criminals in the act.

Trivia, etc. This script was originally slated for broadcast on September 24.

The information contained in this article contains excerpts from The Green Hornet: A History of Radio, Motion Pictures, Comics and Television, by Martin Grams Jr. and Terry Salomonson. The book was published in 2009 by OTR Publishing and is the official 800 page guide to all things involving The Green Hornet, Kato and the Black Beauty.

For more information about this book, please visit

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Legacy of Steve Haynes and Cinevent

Steve Haynes
I am saddened to report the passing of Steve Haynes, the legend responsible for spearheading Cinevent, an annual film festival in Columbus, Ohio. If you live along the East Coast and ever wanted to attend a film festival specializing in classic movies, Cinevent was your destination. From film noir to silent movies, cowboy Westerns and early studio talkies, there was something for everyone. Laurel and Hardy, and Charley Chase are funny when you watch them at home... but watching them in a theater filled with people who appreciate comedy of that time period changes the mood... funny becomes hilarious. And there is nothing like mingling with people who share a common interest. Steve made sure the atmosphere at Cinevent was social. Fans flocked from across the country to buy posters, lobby cards, photographs, books, movies, magazines and other vintage movie memorabilia. 

On Facebook, people are expressing their heartfelt sympathy and prayers for Steve's family. He was injured twice in the past few years and fought a battle against cancer, which ultimately took his life yesterday, April 21. I found Steve to be a very generous man, patient, clam and soft-spoken. His biggest virtue was his common sense. He didn't jump on any bandwagon and avoided anything politics, controversy or ignorance. He enjoyed every moment of his life. Every year I chatted with him following a movie screening to learn something I did not know about the movie. Whether it was the difference between the original screenplay and the stage play, or the original casting intentions before the finished product went before the camera, or the rarity of the last reel being in Technicolor which the film studios did not have a print of, I always learned something new. At Cinevent, we talked about the hobby and movies -- the outside world was shut out for a few days. After all, we came to appreciate the art form and enrich our lives with knowledge that the general public probably didn't give two hoots about. Steve certainly helps enrich my life.

Steve always said as long as he was six feet above ground there would always be a Cinevent. This year marks the 47th year and his family will continue this year's event in his memory. We can only hope that his family continues his legacy. If you never went to Cinevent before, this is the year you want to attend. Come see what you are missing and discover just how much Steve left behind and how many people he inspired.

To quote Abraham Lincoln, "It is not the years in your life that count, it is the life in your years that matter the most." Steve enjoyed every moment and shared with us memories that we will never forget. Forty years from now when someone asks me how I was first exposed to Charley Chase, I will hold my head up high and say his name.

2008 issue of OHIO MAGAZINE about Steve.…/Articles/Screen_Gems_3227.aspx

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Spooky Titanic Premonition?

The Wreck of the Titan
With the recent anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic approaching, it seems fitting to briefly explore one of the strangest coincidences in World History. In 1898, Morgan Robertson wrote a novel titled Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan. The story tells of an ocean liner, named "Titan," which sinks in the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg. The novel was published fourteen years before the sinking of The Titanic. The details contained within the pages of the novel are spooky.... read on.

Like any standard novel of the era, the first half of Futility introduces the hero, John Rowland. Rowland is a disgraced former U.S. Navy officer, who is now an alcoholic and has fallen to the lowest levels of society. Dismissed from the Navy, he is working as a deckhand on board the Titan. On a chilly April night the ship hits an iceberg, causing the vessel to capsize and sink somewhat before the halfway point of the novel. 

One Step Beyond screen version
The second half follows Rowland, as he saves the young daughter of a former lover, by jumping onto the iceberg with her. The adventures continue but it is the first half that proves intriguing because of the similarities to the real incident that happened 14 years later.

Although the novel was written before the Titanic was even designed, there are some uncanny similarities between both the fictional and real-life versions. Like the Titanic, the fictional ship sank in April in the North Atlantic, and there were not enough lifeboats for the passengers. Both ships sank as a result of an iceberg. There are also similarities between the size (800 feet long for Titan vs. 882 feet, 9 inches long for the Titanic), speed (25 knots for Titan, 22.5 knots for Titanic) and the lack of sufficient life-saving equipment. Both ships were triple screw (propeller) and both described as "unsinkable."

One Step Beyond episode, "The Night of April 14th"
The Titanic was actually qualified as "unsinkable" before she sank. The Titan was the largest craft afloat and deemed "practically unsinkable" as quoted in Robertson's book. The Titanic carried only 16 lifeboats plus 4 Engelhardt folding lifeboats, less than half the number required for her passenger and crew capacity of 3,000. The Titan carried "as few as the law allowed" which was 24 lifeboats, less than half needed for her 3,000 capacity. When The Titanic sank, more than half of her 2,200 passengers and crew died. When The Titan sank, more than half of her 2,500 passengers and crew died.

The Wreck of the Titan
The spooky coincidence was covered in John Newland's closing commentary in an episode of television's One Step Beyond, "The Night of April 14th," and paid homage in a recent Dr. Who audio drama, The Wreck of the Titan, starring Colin Baker. Looking for something to read this spring? Give this one a try.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Gone With the Wind Auction

Want to own original Hollywood movie props from Gone with the Wind? Here's your chance.

The James Tumblin Gone with the Wind Collection, devoted to the Academy Award winning film will be sold by Heritage next weekend on April 18, 2015. The collection of screen-used costumes, props, and behind the scenes pieces features over 150 lots of one of a kind collectibles for the 1939 MGM classic from the Golden Age of cinema history.

"When it comes to Gone with the Wind memorabilia, no one is more respected and recognized than Jim Tumblin," says Kathleen Guzman, managing director of Heritage Auctions in New York. "He has devoted his life and efforts to promoting Hollywood and this film, touring his items throughout the United States. Very rarely does memorabilia of this caliber come to market, and these pieces represent an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collect these incredible treasures."

Among the highlights are Clark Gable's suit as pictured on the left. A hand-written check, a prop used in the movie, is also among the auction items.

Tumblin formerly served as the head of the hair and makeup department at Universal Studios. He started collecting Gone with the Wind screen-used costumes, props, and behind the scenes rarities in the early 1960s. During a trip to the Western Costume Company he discovered Vivien Leigh’s iconic dress worn in her Academy Award-winning role as Scarlett O'Hara. The dress was worn during four important scenes in the movie. He was told that it was going to be thrown away, but he spoke with the company manager and ended up paying $20 to procure the dress.

"I started getting inter-office memos and phone calls," Tumblin recalls, "and my secretary would get messages saying 'Well, my aunt worked on that film. Would you be interested in this?' or 'My grandfather worked on this film. What about this?' And that's how it started."

About 50 years later, his collection has amassed over 300,000 collectibles from the movie that has been exhibited across the country. Items up for bid at Heritage include Clark Gable’s period gray suit worn as Rhett Butler in the scene where he kicks down Scarlett’s door and Leslie Howard’s Confederate soldier uniform worn as Ashley Wilkes in the pivotal scene where he finds his way back to Tara Plantation. They are offering Leigh’s period blouse worn in the climactic "As God as my witness" scene and Bonnie Blue Butler's riding dress worn by the young actress, Cammie King. Also in the auction is Hattie McDaniel’s cherished presentation script signed by famed producer David O. Selznick. McDaniel is well known for being the first African-American to win an Academy Award for her role as Mammy in the film.

Heritage is also offering rare, behind the scenes pieces including preproduction artworks like the Ashley Wilkes and Scarlett O'Hara standing by a tree, reading of the Confederate dead and wounded scene, and an intense image of Atlanta burning.

The auction will be held at Heritage’s Beverly Hills office, located at 9478 West Olympic Boulevard, 1st Floor. The sale begins at 3 PM Central Time on April 18.

You can watch the auction live at the following site, view all the items (loads of photographs) and check out the gavel prices as they sell tomorrow.

You can also view a three-minute video about the auction items and the collection itself here:

You can also see a second video about the collection here:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Myth Debunked: Bass Reeves was NOT The Lone Ranger

For almost a decade there has circulated a myth that falsely suggests an African-American U.S. Deputy Marshal named Bass Reeves was the inspiration for the fictional character of The Lone Ranger. Triggered by recent folklore and influenced by racial bias, the myth continues to circulate across the internet like wildfire. With a lack of concern for factual documents, many on the internet continue to mistake myth for fact. While the real life of Bass Reeves deserves to be better-known for his accomplishments, it is unfortunate that his good name is being tarnished by this false Lone Ranger connection.

Besides documenting the true accomplishments of Reeves, a book published a decade ago caused unnecessary confusion by falsely suggesting he was the inspiration for the fictional character of The Lone RangerFollowing examination in archives across the country, it was discovered that three individuals, living in two different states, were responsible for the formation of The Lone Ranger, none of whom conspired to take credit away from Bass Reeves. On top of this, proof was found that The Lone Ranger was intentionally patterned off of Tom Mix. Yes, you read that correctly. Tom Mix was the inspiration.

To summarize within a couple paragraphs... Most radio programs of the 1930s were created and produced in-house, in-studio or solely in the hands of an advertising agency representing the sponsor. With script writer Fran Striker in Buffalo, New York, and director James Jewell and producer George W. Trendle stationed in Detroit, Michigan, a number of letters and telegrams were sent back and forth providing us with an almost day-by-day account of the creation and evolution of The Lone Ranger program. This, in a nut shell, is extremely rare for historians of vintage radio broadcasts of the 1930s. Through these historical letters, we can verify the true origin of the radio program. As an example, it was Jewell who came up with the idea of an Indian sidekick but it was Fran Striker who created the name of Tonto. In short, while most reference guides claim one person responsible for the creation of the radio program, it was really the participation and input of three individuals. Thus is comes down to a single letter sent to Fran Striker from director James Jewell asking the script-writer-for-hire to pattern the series after Tom Mix, the screen idol who starred in numerous cowboy westerns.

Type Bass Reeves on a standard google search and you will find websites claiming he was the inspiration for the Masked Man, but no archival or historical documents proving this statement. Thankfully, a recent 22-page thesis was published, now available as a free eBook (in PDF format), debunking the myth in detail. Also included are reprints of archival documents to back up the facts.

Yet, one individual who wrote a biography about Bass Reeves continues to ride on the coat tails of anything related to The Lone Ranger, including the 2011 Disney motion-picture, to publicize his Bass Reeves book. Not only has the author of that book stated publicly more than once that he never found anything conclusive to back his claim that The Lone Ranger was the inspiration for Bass Reeves, but we have a smoking gun -- a letter from Jewell to Striker -- specifically asking the script writer to pattern the fictional cowboy after Tom Mix. 

There was a direct model being used for 
The Lone Ranger and it was Tom Mix.

As the Internet is the wild west of myths and misconceptions, there is not much we can do but continue to share the facts every time we see someone running with this silly (and false) Bass Reeves connection.
Bloggers today would provide a good turn to Bass Reeves by documenting his accomplishments, rather than repeating a myth that diverts attention from his achievements. You can also do Bass Reeves (and The Lone Ranger) a good turn by sharing this pdf on your blog, newsletter, Facebook page and other venues to get the word around. The author and publishing company is giving this away for free. The good name of Bass Reeves should not be tarnished with a fictional Lone Ranger connection -- he should be acknowledged for what he did and not something he truly had no involvement with. 

So the next time someone on Facebook or social media reprints the myth, you can provide them this link.